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Action Inquiry


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About the Author

Bill Torbert is professor of management at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, former graduate dean and director of the Ph.D. Program in organizational transformation and a consultant to such organizations as Gillette, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, Volvo, Lego, Pilgrim Health Care, Danforth Foundation, and the National Security Agency, He is the author of numerous books, including Learning from Experience and Managing the Corporate Dream.
Dalmar Fisher teaches organizational communication, interpersonal effectiveness, and teambuilding at Boston College. His research and writing is aimed at improving managers' interpersonal skills. Books he has authored and coauthored include Communication in Organizations, Autonomy in Organizational Life, and Personal and Organizational Transformations through Action Inquiry. He has long enjoyed running, from the 400-meter race at Northwestern to marathons with the 60+ age group to more leisurely jogging in recent years. After both running at and graduating from Northwestern, he received an MBA from Boston College and a DBA from Harvard Business School. His wife of 33 years is Laura; children are Deirdre, Nathaniel, and Naomi; and grandchildren are Sarah, Caitlin, and Ocean.


"Buckle up your seatbelt and enjoy the ride. Torbert is an original and his ideas about life, learning and leadership will rattle your brain and stir your soul."
--Charles Derber, author of Corporation Nation, People Before Profit, and Regime Change Begins at Home

"In Action Inquiry, Bill Torbert and his colleagues take on a question as old as Socrates: how to translate human understanding into right action. They argue that we must develop the capacity not only to anticipate consequences, but also to reevaluate our goals and to challenge our deepest assumptions in response to changing contexts and diverse perspectives. Their model of self-critical learning offers a much-needed alternative to views that mistake self-assertion for agency and brute force for power."
--Morris Kaplan, author of Sexual Justice: Democratic Citizenship and the Politics of Desire and Professor of Philosophy, SUNY-Purchase

"We all suffer from a lack of understanding of how to work and live together. Action Inquiry offers the kind of questions and practical ideas we need in order to search for effective truth in our own work and in our life with each other."
--Jacob Needleman, author of Money and the Meaning of Life and Time and the Soul

"In this path breaking book, Torbert and his team report back from the leadership frontier that each of us faces. Through lively cases, they illustrate how the demand action inquiry makes on you grows your capacity for leadership. Torbert's work is unique. No one else combines such erudition with such evidence and such a sense of immediate applicability."
--Jay Ogilvy, Partner, The Monitor Group of Companies; co-founder, Global Business Network; and coauthor of China's Futures

"Bill Torbert understands something that few students of leadership ever comprehend. The essence of leadership is the capacity to learn in real time. In this marvelous book he not only articulates the principles of action learning, he gives us practical tools. He helps us develop a potent skill. If you wish to differentiate and distinguish yourself as a contributor of the highest caliber, read this work. It will enlarge your mind and expand your capacity."
--Robert E. Quinn, Professor, University of Michigan Business School, and author of Building the Bridge as You Walk on It: A Guide for Leading Change

"In Action Inquiry, Bill Torbert makes a major contribution to the emerging conversation between academia and the world of affairs. This conversation is essential as our global society faces extraordinary new problems of sustainability of the global ecosystems and justice for all humanity. Torbert's vision and practice of inquiring, collaborative leader- ship offers an important key to how we can address these urgent issues at individual, organizational and societal levels."
--Peter Reason, Director, Centre for Action Research in Professional Practice, University of Bath

"For years now I have watched intense personal and sometimes organizational transformations take place as participants in Boston College's Leadership for Change Program experiment with the ideas that Bill Torbert presents in this book. This book dramatically illustrates how action inquiry can be a path to self- and other-awareness, insight, and positive changes of the sort that can shape a world in the future that we will all want to live in."
--Sandra Waddock, author of Leading Corporate Citizens

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